No matter what industry you’re in – whether it’s healthcare, finance, real estate or a myriad of other sectors – there is no question that technology plays a pivotal role in driving success and competitiveness. However, for many overwhelmed and time-constrained business leaders, navigating the complex world of IT can be incredibly daunting. The prospect of change, coupled with the seemingly endless array of tech options, often leads to procrastination or avoidance.
This is where a Managed Services Provider (MSP) steps in as a potential solution. But before you jump into a partnership, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure you’re making the right choice for your business and finding the optimal fit in an MSP partner.
10 Key Questions to Ask a Prospective Managed IT Services Provider
Here, we explore 10 key questions that business leaders should be asking prospective MSPs to help them gain the leverage they need.
Question #1: What do you charge extra for above and beyond the monthly services?
This question is essential to understand the full cost of engaging with an MSP. MSPs often have base monthly service fees, but they may charge additional fees for specific services or unexpected support needs like an onsite visit. It’s crucial to know what services are covered by the standard fee and what might incur extra costs. When evaluating MSPs, it’s critical to look for transparency in their pricing structure.
Question #2: Who owns the hardware if I no longer want to work with you?
The ownership of hardware is a critical consideration in any MSP relationship. In some cases, MSPs may provide hardware as part of their services, and you must be clear about who retains ownership. A reputable MSP should be open about hardware ownership and provide options for clients if they decide to discontinue the partnership. Look for an answer that clearly defines hardware ownership and offers a smooth transition plan if you decide to part ways, ensuring you maintain control of your infrastructure.
Question #3: How are my tickets prioritized when issues arise?
When technology issues occur, response time and issue prioritization can significantly impact your business operations. Understanding how an MSP manages support tickets and their dispatch methodology is crucial. Look for an MSP that emphasizes quick response times, clear ticket prioritization criteria and a well-defined dispatch methodology to ensure that your critical issues are addressed promptly.
Question #4: Do your engineers abide by the same SOC2-compliant policies you recommend?
Cybersecurity is a top concern in the modern digital landscape. If an MSP recommends security policies for clients, it’s essential to ensure that they practice what they preach. An ideal answer would confirm that the MSP’s engineers adhere to the same SOC2 compliance and security policies they recommend to clients, demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity best practices.
Question #5: Are you positioned to continue to operate in the event of an internet outage?
Internet connectivity is the lifeblood of modern businesses, and downtime can have a severe impact. It’s vital to inquire about the redundancy of an MSP’s internet connections at their primary location. A reliable MSP should have contingency plans in place, such as multiple internet connections, to ensure uninterrupted service delivery, even in the face of network outages.
Question #6: How do you charge if your client procures hardware from outside the MSP?
Flexibility in hardware procurement is crucial. Your business might have specific hardware preferences or existing equipment you’d like to integrate. It’s important to understand how an MSP handles situations where you procure hardware independently. Look for an MSP that is accommodating and transparent about how they handle these scenarios, including integration, support and any potential cost adjustments.
Question #7: Do you require Security Operations Center services as part of your offering?
Security Operations Center (SOC) services are essential for monitoring and mitigating security threats. While some MSPs include SOC services as part of their offerings, others may offer them as an optional add-on. Some do not offer the service at all. This question helps you understand the level of security coverage provided by the MSP.
Question #8: Do you have more than one level of service? Who takes the risk in the lower tiers?
Understanding the different service levels an MSP offers is crucial for tailoring your support to your business needs and budget. When an MSP has multiple service tiers, it’s important to inquire about the risk allocation. Typically, higher service tiers come with more comprehensive coverage but at a higher cost. In a lower tier you are likely responsible for some of the risk.
Question #9: If I, the client, do all the things you say and there is an issue, are you going to charge me extra to fix it?
This question addresses potential scenarios where despite adhering to best practices, unforeseen issues still arise. It’s essential to know how the MSP handles such situations. A reliable MSP should be committed to resolving issues without unexpected additional charges when the problem is not due to client negligence.
Question #10: How many methods of backup do you put in place and how often do you test them?
This question addresses recovery scenarios. Having a backup is fine. Backups without redundancy is not fine. Ask if the backup is straight to the cloud without a local appliance. Or if the backup is to a local appliance, does it replicate to the cloud. Do you backup my Office 365 content outside of the Microsoft cloud. Lastly, how often do you test restore from those backups? Backups without recurring recovery testing is not sufficient.
Tech Squared: Your Dedicated Partner in Managed IT Success
Selecting the right MSP is not a decision to be taken lightly. By asking these crucial questions and seeking detailed answers, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business’s unique needs. If you are looking for an MSP that provides the gold standard of IT services – one that offers transparency, security and unwavering support, we’d love to discuss how Tech Squared can be the partner you need for a seamless and successful IT journey.